[4AD/Beggars Group, out April 19]
Last year at L.A.'s Orpheum, Yoko Ono presented one of the best shows we've ever seen. She lined up Lady Gaga, Sonic Youth, the RZA, etc. They were all in top form. Guess what? Tune-yards (aka Merrill Garbus) upstaged them all. And though her previous album was very good, it was a bit grimier than her invariably jaw-dropping, instant-fan-making performances. Whokill is an essential album, experimental and tuneful, soulful without the post-Winehouse clichés, and world-beat without the preppie affectations. If "Gangsta" is not the best thing in any genre you've heard in a while, it'll come close. Two words: Get it.
Boogie 4 Stu
[Eagle Records, available now]
You'll hear a lot about how "the Rolling Stones" (Bill Wyman and all) reunited on one track here to cover Dylan's "Watching the River Flow." It's not quite like that — they were all recorded separately and the song is a loose outtake at best. What makes this tribute to the Stones' pianist (and secret soul of the band) Ian Stewart special is the relaxed boogying, stomping and shuffling by a gang of friends struck by the magic of the Albert Ammons/Joe Turner smoky variety of the blues. Oh, and Keith sings "Worried Life Blues" — and when the Man sings, you should listen.
THE ONE AM RADIO
Heaven Is Attached by a Slender Thread
[Dangerbird Records, out April 12]
This L.A. quartet serves up dreamy pop songs made lively by catchy keyboard and guitar licks and sing-along choruses. "Bedroom electronica" and "folktronica" have been thrown around as terms for One AM's use of violins and drum machines and careful mix of acoustic with electronic. Songs like "Sunlight" and "In a City Without Seasons" make use of pop vocal choruses without meandering too far into saccharine. Produced by Tony Hoffer, who has lent his talents to Silversun Pickups, Darker My Love and Jack Penate.
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"Light Up Tonight"
[Online, available now]
Alex Boyd might have "nearly let himself become the male Lady Gaga," but we're glad no trace of that curse lingers in the first single from the soul singer's debut album, Commit Me, out this August. Instead, over a shuffling, smooth jazz track, he soft-pedals verses before belting out a chorus that's primed for a prime-time TV drama's love scene. Offer this one to your friend who's worn you out on Michael Bublé.